By WILL KIRSCH
For The News-Letter
Comedian and actor Aziz Ansari recently premiered his self-produced sitcom Master of None on Netflix. His humorous take on life as a young person in the 21st century manifests itself in this new series about a young actor, Dev, played by Ansari, and his interactions with his friends, girlfriends, parents and coworkers.
Ansari’s wildly popular stand-up comedy and his former role on the hit television show Parks and Recreation have earned him recognition among American millenials, and the universally positive reviews of Master of None have praised his creative abilities.
Dev is flanked by Eric Wareheim, Kelvin Yu and Lena Waithe as his close and individually odd friends who each develop in their own way throughout the first season. Former Saturday Night Live cast member Noël Wells portrays Dev’s one-night stand and eventual long-term girlfriend while comedian and voice actor H. Jon Benjamin, known for his roles on animated shows like Bob’s Burgers and Archer, plays an experienced minor actor who provides Dev with some wise, often jaded advice.
Notably, Ansari cast his real-life parents as the parents of his character.
The supporting actors in the series are a solid collection of talent, with screenwriters, comedians and complete amateurs all pulling off interesting characters with plenty of depth. The exception is Waithe’s character Denise, who will hopefully receive a little more attention in the next season.
Dev’s struggles and successes with his career, his love life and his place in society chart the path of a young person trying to scrape out a meaningful existence in a world where this type of life is hard to create.
Dev is both the victim of and party to the casual evils of society. He is typecast for his race in one episode and lands a movie role in another. He considers the beauty of creation and the inexplicable suffering of child rearing. His relationships both prosper and sputter. He is also obsessed with pasta.
The show, which delivers both poignant clarity and sharp humor, gives the viewer a look into issues like the inequality between men and women in dating and television, the discrimination toward immigrants and the disconnect between them and their children, the morality of cheating and the marginalization of the elderly.
Episodes like “Ladies and Gentlemen,” “Indians on TV,” “The Other Man” and “Old People,” titled to fit their themes, are enlightening for both Dev and the viewer while still highlighting Ansari’s trademark — loud but clever humor and copious amounts of swag.
One might say that Master of None is all about contrast. It deftly balances the light and the dark, joking about social and personal issues while still creating an illuminating discussion. This show is reminiscent of Louis C.K.’s Louie but without as much pervasive destitution and sadness.
Ansari’s character embodies the dream of youth, albeit one which is nearing its end. As a 30-year-old, Dev is often presented with big decisions, like marriage and his career, while constantly being nagged by small inconveniences of laborious hedonism. What other show would use the purchase of Plan B after a one night stand to launch an episode about the idea of raising kids?
Master of None is a good TV show. There may be some bias here in that the author of this review liked it so much that he watched the entire first season in two days, but aren’t reviews all about bias?
If you’re between the ages of 18 and 30 and are constantly plagued by a feeling of aimlessness even though your life has nothing much to complain about, this show is perfect for you. It embodies the relatively easy lifestyle of the millenial and the underlying, often depressing struggle of trying to find some shade of meaning and direction in a world of triviality.
Next time you log in to your Netflix account, which gives you access to a seemingly innumerable amount of movies, ignore the distractions of the thousands of titles and focus instead on Master of None.